Have you ever wondered why OTAs like Booking.com, Airbnb, and Expedia convert visitors so high and get bookings like ABC, but you can’t make many conversions on your direct booking website? You have put a lot of effort into SEO and worked hard to optimise your direct booking website to attract more bookers but still have a very low conversion rate. Maybe, it is time for you to enter the second phase of your website optimisation and improve the conversion rate on your direct booking website.
What Is Conversion Rate?
Conversion rate is typically calculated as the percentage of the total number of bookings you received divided by the number of users who have visited your website over a specific period, like a month. What is defined as conversion on your website heavily depends on your marketing goals and your business type and size. A conversion can be filling out a contact form, downloading a freebie or guide, a new signup, or a booking.
Your conversion rate is one of the KPIs to measure your rental business’ marketing efficiency. A low conversion rate indicates that considerable traffic coming to your website leaves it without taking a specific action. Therefore, there might be severe issues in your website’s operation or customer journey.
Website drop-off happens at different stages and for multiple reasons; it can result from a slow-loading website, failing to grab your visitors’ attention, difficult-to-find information, pricing, cumbersome form fillings, etc. So, the first thing you need to do to improve the conversion rate on your direct booking website is to figure out where your visitors are leaving and why.
1. Find Where Your Visitors Drop Off
Your first step in Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is to identify what’s causing users to abandon your website. You must equip your website with a behaviour analytics tool like Google Analytics, Hotjar, Smartlook, Mouseflow, Crazy Egg and Lucky Orange. These tools allow you to see a heat map of your direct booking website and overview your users’ behaviour to find where exactly your most of such drop-off is happening. Using these solutions and the collection of tools they offer allows you to track and analyse your website conversion rates by channel, device, and much more, review your complete visitor experience and identify the most common barriers to conversion.
2. Website Visitors’ Behaviour Interpretation
- Website visitors who leave just after visiting your homepage might have left because of your website’s design, low pace or lack of attraction on your homepage.
- Visitors who leave after viewing several pages and then leave might not have found the information they were looking for and didn’t get their answers to make a booking.
- Users, who leave forms half-filled, might have found your forms too long and tedious.
- If you encounter many page exits after checking availability, your visitors might’ve been turned off by the price.
- Visitors leaving before checking out might not have found your payment methods secure or didn’t like the booking experience.
Analyse the user experience on your website, understand your visitors’ pain points and take some strategic changes to address their obstacles to booking with you. As a result, you can make your website ready for more direct bookings and improve your conversion rate.
3. Optimise Your Direct Booking Website
As a result of your recent efforts, you’re driving more organic visitors to your website. Significant progress, well done! However, I’m afraid to tell you that if your website and booking process are not optimised to convert these prospects, you are just wasting your money investing in activities to increase traffic to your website.
Rather than investing heavily in gaining more website traffic, it makes more sense to improve the conversion rate on your direct booking website and turn your existing traffic into bookings. There are dozens of simple steps to optimise your website to make the most conversions.
To achieve this goal, first, you need a top-notch booking engine and a fully responsive website to provide a seamless and smooth booking experience for your users.
4. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
The majority of the customers in the travel industry browse and book travel through mobile devices. Make your site responsive on a whole host of different devices. Ensure that your site is usable and works perfectly on as many platforms as possible.
- 1. Improve Your User Experience
Users need things to be completed quickly, rapidly, and efficiently. So, having a fully functioning, fast loading, simple direct booking website is a must.
Focus on your web pages’ usability to allow your users to achieve their goals efficiently and satisfactorily and provide an exceptional experience. If your homepage fails to state what you offer clearly, your website’s information is hard to read or doesn’t answer your users’ key questions, your visitors will leave.
- 2. Simplify Your Website
Make your landing pages simple, concise, and easy to navigate. Choose a simple design and theme and eliminate all distractions from your homepage. Rework to improve simplicity, clarity of next steps, and navigation ease.
Giving too much information makes your guests leave. Place critical information above the fold and let your visitors reach what they’re looking for with ease.
Keep things fresh and up to date on your website. Optimise and test on an ongoing basis. Never stop testing the changes you make to your website. Ensure your site is optimised to get the most conversions.
- 3. Streamline Your Booking Process
Make the reservation process as easy as possible. Minimise the steps for booking and payment to speed up the process and encourage your website visitors to move along the conversion funnel.
Make your visitors focus on your offer by eliminating all distractors. Use heat maps to find out exactly what people click on. Look for features that people aren’t using and delete them to make your pages simpler. You can also implement many other measures to make your booking journey as smooth as possible and improve the conversion rate on your direct booking website.
- To prevent booking abandonment, you need a user-friendly booking engine. Use a booking engine that enables your guests to see your short-term rentals’ rates and availability in real-time with a few clicks.
- Make your offers, rates and availability transparent and readily available without asking for sign-up or other requirements. Users are unwilling to give out personal information just to access pricing and offerings. Guests need to know your reservation conditions, clear cancellation policy, and a complete list of amenities.
- Remove unnecessary fields from your forms. Just require the critical information and keep fields to a minimum. Make sure all of your fields play a crucial role. Otherwise, remove them. Keep room selection straightforward and leave upsells for your post-booking communications.
- Instead of asking your users to create a new profile from scratch, let them sign up using a third-party signup service like their Google or Facebook accounts to log in. This can help you eliminate the signup form and shorten your booking process.
- You can also optimise your social media channels and let your guests book directly from your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Provide various simple and secure payment options to pave the way for conversions.
- 4. Incentivise Visitors to Return
Potential guests usually visit multiple websites and compare several choices before making their final booking. As a result, you must be quick enough to convince your visitors that booking with you is the best option they are looking for.
Focus on your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) and represent what differentiates you from the other options available. Offer your visitors personalised messages or special offers on your direct booking website to draw them back to your site. Try several offers until you find something that appeals to your audience.
Use an Exit-Intent pop-up to persuade your abandoning visitors to stay on your website. Display a message with a sense of urgency and encourage the users who are about to leave to make a quick decision. You can offer them group discounts, restaurant, gym and spa discounts or free breakfast when booking directly on your booking site. Catch your users’ attention and stick on their minds to revisit you.
5. Try Different Call to Actions
Try different CTAs (Call to Action) on your website to collect your visitors’ email addresses, keep in touch with them and offer them exclusive deals. Use pop-ups to ask them to sign up to your blog or newsletter, save search history and send your visitors ‘shopping cart recovery alerts’ and discount emails.
A/B test different call to action buttons to see which gets the most clicks and makes the most conversions.
6. Add Live Chat and Messenger Tools to Your Site
You can get a chance to foster a relationship with your prospects and offer them customised deals before they book with you. Many of your visitors may be willing to make a booking but might be hesitant to take that last step because of doubt, confusion or a question that occupies their minds. Live chat tools are perfect solutions for helping these on-the-fence prospects and boosting your conversion rate.
7. Provide Social Proof
Add testimonials, reviews, and other user-generated content to your website to provide your visitors with enough social proof and help them make up their minds.
Simple short recommendations from your previous happy guests, whether in video or written form, can streamline the decision-making process of your new prospects and increase the conversion rate.
Curate user-generated content on your landing and critical pages and social media channels. Ask your current guests to share their experiences with your brand, helping customers make a decision confidently.
Vacation rental influencer marketing is another way of getting third-party social proof. Invite influential travel figures that fit your brand image and reflect your guests to share their experience with their followers and give them a peek at what it’s like to book with you.
8. Leverage the Power of Remarketing
Remarketing techniques can come in handy when a user lands on your page, successfully passes most of the booking steps but leaves your site without finalising their deal. The basic idea behind remarketing is to reach out to users who have already interacted with you and give them a little push to move along the conversion process.
If your users aren’t ready to book when they first visit your website, you can offer them a second chance to become customers. These prospective guests already know you; they have much higher chances of converting. Therefore, you must target them on several occasions and reach out through follow-up emails to remind them of finishing their reservation.
9. Use Retargeting Tools
Retargeting and remarketing have the same objectives but use different tactics to accomplish their goal. Retargeting primarily uses paid ads to target audiences who have visited your website or social media profiles, while remarketing uses email to target people who have already done business with your brand.
You can use retargeting campaigns to remind your website visitors of your rental business after leaving your website without buying. You can retarget them by showing them relevant visual or text ads when visiting other platforms. Retargeting campaigns could be done with the help of Google AdWords, Facebook retargeting, LinkedIn Ads and other advertising platforms.
Low conversion rates and high booking abandonment are common problems among most direct booking websites. An acceptable conversion rate must accompany an increase in website visitors. Otherwise, you will not be able to make many direct bookings.
Without a mobile-friendly, fully functioning, simple website optimised to make the most of conversions, many of your website visitors will vanish for good and never look back. Besides, without employing creative methods to make website visitors return, you can’t improve your conversion rate on your direct booking website and maximise your profits.